Have you ever watched a baseball game? Notice the players as they go up to bat. When they leave the dugout, are they considering what the crowd thinks? His team? Of course not! He's completely focused on smacking that ball to kingdom come. What would happen if, just as the ball left the pitcher's hand, he turned around to explain why he was there to the crowd, manager, coach or whoever? Doesn't matter who he's talking to... he just got a trip to la-la land and a voucher for a free shiner. Instead of knocking the ball to kingdom come, it knocked him.
What happened? Did he forget how to swing? Nope. His focus wasn't truly in the right place at that moment. If it had been, his eye would have been on the ball before the ball was on his eye. what if the thing he said was really important? A valid question? Not the time or the place... his job at that moment was to be focused, not to question himself or anything else.
This hits me in the softest place. Others' words and opinions of me matter way too much. Maybe not to the degree that they knock my life off course or even change my mind about a decision, but that nagging, stinging feeling is still there. That look back to see what someone else thought catches me off guard way too often.
One way I know our church family is the right one for us is understanding. Whaa? Yes. Understanding. Understanding that reality is Ryan can't control what he says during church. He can't sit still, can't be expected to not stim and hum on anything... my purse, the pew bible, the hymnal, the screen... but he does need to be there. I have to tell you that every Sunday all through church I'm mentally preparing myself to have to take up for my boy. The thought of having to do this is frightening to me. Speaking is so NOT my gift. I think part of the reason I love blogging is because I express myself oh-so-much better in print. Not sure why, but it's so much easier to form my thoughts this way! And as awkward as I am in person, put me on the phone and I'm worse than awkward. Ask me to leave a message? Oh dear. Pack a lunch. But as nervous as the concept of standing up for anything makes me, I know I have to. The fear, I think, comes from not wanting to be disrespectful, not wanting to be rude or hurt another's feelings. I freeze completely, can't think, can't speak, and will wind up either crying or just saying "yes sir, I'm so sorry" or just standing there dumbfounded. I must hasten to add that this hasn't happened in church at all anywhere. The one time it did happen was at school, and I just stood there dumbfounded as she refused to speak to me because I was a special needs child's mom. I also must hasten to add that this problem is not limited to autistic outbursts.
Just as you can probably relate, not all the decisions I've made about my life have been met with a parade of compliments and reassurances. The idea that after only four years of college and four years of doing something I absolutely adored (and still do) I'd stay home to raise my children and be Eric's wife sounds perfectly reasonable in most circles in which I'm involved now, but when we made the decision, no. There were things said but just about everyone who knew how much I love band questioning in some way the decision to stay home. My father made sure to let me know how lazy he thought I was, and his was the most hurtful comment. Most of the other hurts have been omission, either by accident or purposefully. No, it has not been the easiest decision, but it was and is best for us for several reasons. For us, that is God's best. So why do I feel the need to explain that to those around me? I shouldn't.
Did you notice that? I shouldn't. Obedience to God's commands and instructions should be their own excuse. There is nothing wrong with sharing the testimonies of how God has used me being home to grow us in our faith, or how it's allowed me to minister to students when I drag our kids to the middle school to give them my time. See, all those hours spent in study and practice to learn to more effectively teach were given to me. Any talent I have in anything is a gift of the Lord to be used for His glory! Every day of those four years I spent teaching band full-time was a gift, too. But I look at my life now and see, although the world may not readily make sense of it, how all the pieces of my talents and gifts work together to make this Senzig household run in a way that is glorifying to God. Knowing this, why in the world would I feel the need to explain myself?
How is it prideful, even sinful, to be concerned about the comfort level of those around you? When I'm worrying about how I look to others, it takes my eye off the ball.
Enter the "ouch."
My focus should be to make sure my boy learns to be with God's people and hearing His word, not to make sure everyone around me knows he has an excuse for his behavior. Yes, part of learning to be in church is learning to be quiet and listen. I'm not advocating rude behavior. But I should be more concerned about whether or not my son is learning to love God and love others than about what the lady three rows ahead or the man three rows behind thinks of my parenting skills. Likewise, in every area where I'm being obedient, I should be so focused on being obedient to the Lord, prayer, staying in His word and carrying out the ministries He has for me that the negative isn't noticed, or begins to just roll off. It is then when I can fully rest in the esteem I have as a daughter in Christ... as one of His chosen... and begin to trust that when need be, the Holy Spirit will give me the words I need to defend only as needed, and always in love.
So as I go about my day, doing dishes, changing diapers, sweeping floors, answering the tons of questions in the pre-assesment surveys for Ryan, reading to my Richie, snuggling my Mae-mae, my prayer is that I will rest in the fact that I was made for this. Even the parts I don't like or understand. Even when I mess up, and the sheer amount of stuff to accomplish seems impossible. Praise the Lord for the works of His hand that we are!
And may we all learn to keep our eye on the ball.